Great Discussion on Money, Materialism, and Missions!
“Be ready in season and out of season”!
Great Discussion on Money, Materialism, and Missions!
“Be ready in season and out of season”!
I cannot speak to highly of The Gospel Coalition Theological Famine Relief ministry. I had a very encouraging talk with Bill Walsh who is heading up this International Outreach. I look forward to working together with them for many,many years! Please pray for them and consider giving to them so that they can continue to spread biblical encouragement through the printed page. Thank you!
“The printed [and digital] page is a missionary that can go anywhere and do so at minimum cost. It enters closed lands and reaches all strata of society. It does not grow weary. It needs no furlough. It lives longer than any missionary. It never gets ill. It penetrates through the mind to the heart and conscience. It has and is producing results everywhere. It has often lain dormant yet retained its life and bloomed years later.” (Samuel Zwemer)
Imagine being a pastor or elder of a small church in Africa, Asia, or South America. You have not been to seminary. In fact, formal schooling will not likely ever be within reach. You have little access to theological training or books. Internet is very limited, and when you do get access, download speeds are often prohibitive. And yet, you are responsible for feeding and leading your local church. This is the situation for thousands of church leaders in many regions of the world.
Famine relief usually refers to an organized effort to reduce starvation. Relief efforts are put into place when an undernourished people group is suffering from a lack of vital nutrition. Although The Gospel Coalition has been working hard since 2007 to resource the North American church–which now has a glut of Christian resources–we realize that much more needs to be done to serve the rest of the world. The statistics are staggering for the theological famine–or lack of theological resources–that the rest of the world endures. The relief work will require overcoming language and cultural barriers, false teaching, lack of education, poor infrastructure, and poverty.
As God directs and equips, The Gospel Coalition’s international mission is to see thousands of congregations in Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe receive solid biblical teaching from their leaders, because of new access to theological resources, both physical and digital, in helpful languages and formats.
We are working to connect a network and movement of partnering individuals and organizations who, in the midst of theological famine, are mobilizing to bring relief. By God’s grace, we see church-planters, pastors, teachers, and missionaries around the world becoming strengthened by the power of the Gospel, through donations of biblical resources, for the building up of the church worldwide.
The focus of our work is in launching Relief Projects consisting of physical and digital resources in English, Spanish, Russian, French, and other languages. The scope of the need is larger than any single ministry can fill. We are looking for partners to help us cultivate relationships, develop and deliver resources, mobilize networks, and build support. We want to connect with donors, churches, translators, publishers, missions senders, and goers who sense a call to engage in Theological Famine Relief. You can help us to create and deploy these resources where they are most needed around the world.
International Outreach was born under the ministry of Desiring God. During its first 6 years, the Lord enabled us to spread more than 360,000 resources through our partners to 113 countries. Join us in praying that He will enable us to reach even more through this relief effort in the coming years.
“What’s wrong with that?” you ask. It actually sounds fairly biblical, almost Pauline. “I just want to finish the race. I don’t want to be disqualified. I want to be found faithful to the end.” Which is well and good, except if the understanding of faithfulness to the gospel is limited to and concerned only with my allotted three score years and ten, or if by reason of strength, four score.
I don’t know about you, but with the challenges and weight of pastoral ministry, sometimes I can be reduced to “Lord, just help me to be faithful to the end.”
And on the flipside of that temptation is the simple fact that it is very hard to be passionate about, and to maintain passion for, the future, especially if that future is beyond our sight. It is easy for me to be passionate about my children’s well-being. And it is easy to extend that passion to their children. But for how many generations out can you maintain that passion? For me it’s hard to go much beyond three generations without falling into abstraction.
I share that simply to illustrate that there is a difficulty, even in our understanding of something as good as gospel faithfulness, in holding the future clearly and rightly in our minds. This can contribute to a tendency to define faithfulness to the gospel too much in terms of our own tenure.
Let me state my point positively: Necessary to our faithful gospel ministry is an investment in the gospel ministry that will come after ours. I see this laid out in the first two chapters of 2 Timothy.
Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:14, “Guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” Then, a few verses later, picking up some of that same language, he tells Timothy, as part of his “guarding,” to “entrust to faithful men” what has been entrusted to him, and part of that “entrusting” is teaching them to pass the same thing on to others (2 Timothy 2:2).
Paul is telling Timothy that an essential part of faithful gospel ministry is this investment in the next generation. It is not some optional add-on. In other words, when Paul tells Timothy to “guard” the gospel, he is not just calling Timothy to protect the integrity of the gospel from the effects of false teaching. He is also calling Timothy to fight to preserve the continuation of the gospel against the effects of erosion over time, even beyond Timothy’s time.
So let me say it again. Essential to our faithfulness in gospel ministry is this investment in a succeeding generation of gospel ministers.
I believe the greatest challenge to this is what we might call the “my lifetime” tendency, a tendency we see exemplified in a certain Old Testament Israelite king. Perhaps you remember the story. Hezekiah is king of Judah. Sennacherib, the king of Assyrian, comes to attack. Hezekiah, with Isaiah’s help, prays and prevails. Hezekiah gets sick and is instructed by Isaiah to get his house in order. Hezekiah cries out to God and is granted fifteen more years. Upon hearing of this, the king of Babylon sends envoys, ostensibly to congratulate Hezekiah on his recovery. Hezekiah in his dim-witted pride shows off the national treasures. The envoys return to Babylon. Isaiah asks for a report of their visit. Hezekiah tells Isaiah what he did. In response, Isaiah predicts the coming Babylonian captivity. Then this.
Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.”
What makes this account even more compelling and sobering as a warning to us is the fact that Hezekiah was extremely influential in reforming the spiritual life of Judah: cleansing the temple; restoring temple worship; reinstating Passover; reorganizing the priesthood. See the account in 2 Chronicles. He made an impressive contribution along very important lines.
But then there is this episode late in his life which betrays both his pride and his myopia. Despite all his zeal, there was, apparently, an absence of zeal for what happened after he passed off the scene.
Richard Baxter brings a wonderful way of addressing this in his book The Reformed Pastor. He writes, “If you will glorify God in your lives, you must be chiefly intent upon the public good, and the spreading of the gospel through the world.” The alternative, according to Baxter, was “a private, narrow soul always taken up about itself that sees not how things go in the world. Its desires and prayers and endeavors go no further than they can see or travel.”
Baxter is talking about the possibility of a geographical shortsightedness, but we might also be guilty of a temporal shortsightedness. That was Hezekiah’s case.
Baxter called his readers to just the opposite — a largeness of soul that “beholds all the earth and desires to know how it goes with the cause and with the servants of the Lord.” Paul’s words in 2 Timothy call us to the very same thing but looking out into the future. “How will it go with the cause? And what can I do to fuel this cause into the future?”
Let us not be content to simply say, “As long as all is well in my lifetime.”
In contrast to Hezekiah’s myopia, we see Paul’s far-seeing vision, and it becomes especially poignant in view of Paul’s imminent departure. Remember this is the same letter in which he says, “The time of my departure is at hand.”
So now he’s asking Timothy to think a certain way about gospel ministry. And he’s asking Timothy to train the next generation to think this way about gospel ministry. And God is asking us to think this way about gospel ministry. Necessary to faithful gospel ministry is an investment in the next generation of gospel ministers.
This should translate into very concrete realities in our weekly lives. This is a responsibility the church shares corporately, but it will require of you a very definite investment of time, energy and purpose.
What will this look like? Let me suggest four possibilities. First, devote yourself to faithful gospel ministry, especially the ministry of the word. The best way to train men to faithfully preach the gospel is to faithfully preach the gospel. William Perkins wrote, “So, let every minister both in his teaching and in his conversation work in such a way that he honors his calling, so that he may attract others to share his love for it.”
Second, pay attention to the young men of various ages in your congregation. Notice how they receive your preaching. Notice how they process your preaching. Notice any deepening affections for God and his word. Keep your eyes open.
Third, create contexts for the young men who catch your eye to practice and grow in their handling of the word.
Fourth, and this must not go unsaid, pray very specifically for God to raise up the next generation of gospel ministers. Pray for your replacement, but pray also for more than that. Pray with an eye, and a heart, toward the future and the continuing success of the gospel in the world, until Christ comes.
This article was posted here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/brothers-train-up-the-next-generation